- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002

A program on homosexuality geared toward children will air next week on Nickelodeon, drawing criticism from parents seeking to prevent its placement on the cable-TV network for children.
Called "Nick News Special Edition: My Family Is Different," the program will focus on families that have at least one homosexual parent.
Critics say the program will promote homosexuality and violate Nickelodeon's appearance as a neutral network. As of yesterday morning, more than 120,000 people had signed a petition on www.conservativepetitions.com asking the children's network not to air the show.
"Nickelodeon is no longer a safe network," says Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition. "It is no longer a safe harbor for parents."
Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler said the show does not promote homosexuality. It is rated PG and will open with a disclaimer when it airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday, the time slot usually reserved for "The Cosby Show."
"It's a special on what kids think of gay parenting," he said. "There will be no talk about sex." He then added, "As we are with all our programming, we're being incredibly responsible, careful and precise."
The program is being produced by journalist Linda Ellerbee for "Nick News," a newsmagazine for pre-adolescents. It will feature a group of children discussing day-to-day lives of families with one or more homosexual parents and the concerns of people who disapprove of same-sex parenting.
The network also says the show will discuss hate crimes and their impact on children and their families. The Rev. Jerry Falwell, chancellor of Liberty University, and Rosie O'Donnell, talk-show host and lesbian parent to three adopted children, will join the discussion.
While "Nick News" usually airs on Sunday evenings, Mr. Bittler said Nickelodeon moved the program to a Tuesday "to get the older end of the show's audience" as well as encourage parents to watch the program with their children.
But Mrs. Lafferty said the show's move from its usual time slot plus the network's decision not to accept advertising indicates Nickelodeon expects the program to be controversial.
Nickelodeon is known mainly for its reruns of classic-TV programs and some daytime children's material, such as "Rugrats" and "SpongeBob SquarePants."
"Isn't Nickelodeon the place to watch kids getting 'slimed' for a wrong answer on a game or find reruns of old television shows? After all, Nickelodeon bills itself as a network parents can trust," said an editorial in the Florida Baptist Witness.
Spokesmen from Nickelodeon and Lucky Duck Productions, Miss Ellerbee's company, which produced the program, maintain the show will serve as an open dialogue about the same-sex-parenting issue.
"This is a show about families, diversity, respect and tolerance," Miss Ellerbee said through a spokesman. "If we're saying gay people deserve tolerance and respect, we're also saying that people are entitled to their own opinions. This is not a show about how one knows he or she is gay. It's not about sex, and it does not tell you what to think."

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